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Estate planning vital for those entering gray marriages

A significant number of marriages nationwide, including in Texas, involve older people who marry for a second or third time. At the same time, a large number of gray divorces take place, and after many years of accumulating assets, both parties may be wise to revise their estate plans before saying "I do." Each spouse may have specific ideas about whom they want to inherit their assets -- will it be their biological children or their stepchildren? If estate planning was left unattended for a while, a former spouse and his or her children might still be listed as recipients.

The first document to consider at this time may be a prenuptial agreement to protect both parties in the event of a divorce. The possibility of one spouse's death is a matter to consider. Important issues may include the right of a new spouse to continue living in the house if the party who is the owner should die. Additionally, what happens if the surviving spouse moves a new lover or spouse into that house?

What effect will a changed marital status will have on benefits like pensions, IRAs and Social Security, and to whom will they go? Older people may become incapacitated and long-term medical care and nursing services may drain the other spouse's assets. These are only a small number of the issues to address before entering into a so-called gray marriage, and those who do not know their rights may be unprepared for what may come their way.

Texas residents who are considering a gray marriage may find comfort in knowing that an experienced estate planning attorney can provide the necessary guidance and support. A lawyer will assist with updating living trusts, wills, durable powers of attorney, health care proxies and more. Once the new marital status is  appropriately reflected in all documents, and the current wishes of the client are documented, it may be safe to go ahead and say, "I do."

Source: nhmagazine.com, "Navigating Late-Life Remarriage", Accessed on Nov. 17, 2016

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